While offense has been the standout for Lincoln much of the season, its defense stood tallest in helping them claim a spot in the playoffs. The Abes forced five turnovers and recorded 17 tackles-for-loss, and Marcus Johnson scored on a 14-yard touchdown run with under eight minutes remaining to give Lincoln a 21-16 win over Wilson on Oct. 25 at Lincoln Bowl.
“They took it personally, the challenge that we put before them this week,” said Lincoln head coach Jon Kitna of his defense. “They didn’t have their best week last week against South Kitsap. One thing they’ve been creating all year is turnovers. They play with a lot of speed.”
The Abes’ Rayshaun Miller recovered Wilson quarterback Julius Yates-Brown’s fumble on the Rams’ first play from scrimmage at the 14-yard line, and Miller raced in from 10 yards out two plays later to make it 6-0. Lincoln added a safety midway through the first quarter when a snap sailed over Wilson punter Brandon Montgomery and out of the end zone.
Wilson responded on their next drive, as Yates-Brown hit Montgomery in stride for a 92-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline to cut it to 8-7. But Yates-Brown had to leave the game with a foot injury midway through the second quarter, and with second-stringer Alex Koshman sporting a cast on his broken hand, the Rams were forced into playing third-stringer Brandon Scarpaci.
“We just didn’t have a quarterback that had played very much,” said Wilson head coach Don Clegg. “In a game like this when you’re playing for the league championship, that’s pretty tough.”
The Abes went up 15-7 midway through the third quarter when Jordan Kitna hit Dehonta Hayes for a 21-yard touchdown on a screen pass. But Isaiah Simpson responded immediately for the Rams, returning the resulting kickoff 78 yards, cutting it to 15-13 after they were stopped short on the two-point conversion.
“This game was a showcase of athletes in Tacoma, both on their side and ours,” Jon Kitna said. “A lot of speed.”
Simpson – who finished with 18 carries for 81 yards – ripped off a 45-yard run early in the fourth quarter to help set up a 25-yard field goal by Alec Greenleaf that gave the Rams a 16-15 lead with 9:20 remaining. Johnson then broke loose for a 51-yard kickoff return to set the Abes up at the Rams’ 25-yard line, and he strolled in for the game-winning score on a sweep to the right three plays later.
The Abes snuffed out the Rams’ next drive by recovering a fumbled snap by Scarpaci near midfield, and Johnson later ended Wilson’s hopes with an interception deep in Rams’ territory with 1:20 remaining.
“The kids showed some tenacity by sticking in there when it could have been a blowout,” Clegg said. “They showed they have some fight in them. I have to give our kids credit for that.”
Miller had 17 carries for 92 yards for the Abes, while Johnson had nine carries for 52 yards. Jordan Kitna finished just 7-for-24 for 109 yards and a touchdown, and was picked off twice late in the first half by Montgomery.